I remember a lot of things about the last eight years.
I remember the day gay marriage became legal in Iowa and waking up Satchel, the gay freshman who lived in the dorm next to mine. “Do you wanna get married?” I asked him excitedly. “No,” he replied flatly. “Well,” I went on, “we could if we wanted to!”
I remember that summer, moving to Minnesota to live with a boy I’d fallen in love with. One night, before I went back to school, he took me for a walk on the Stone Arch Bridge. We snuck through barricades to get underneath the bridge, and he proposed to me.
I remember when The Ex Fiance left me (the first time). I remember sitting on the couch, catty-corner from him in the loveseat. I took off my diamond Tiffany ring and put it on the coffee table, a sign of defeat, that we had failed.
I remember my senior year of college, meeting a man with a traveling theater group who noticed my “Gay: Fine By Me” emblazoned t-shirt. I was co-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, and we gave the t-shirts out for free at the yearly Drag Show. I remember his smile when listening to my explanation, and him saying, “I wish we had something like that when I was in college.”
I remember my first Gay Pride in New York City—it was so much bigger than I expected, much more so than anything I’d ever experienced in Iowa. I had brunch with 20 fellow homos, new friends and old friends alike (and unlimited drinks, of course); we went to the parade, and we were totally, unashamedly ourselves.
I remember when gay marriage was legalized for the entire USA. I felt a tinge of pain, memories of my first engagement lingering, but I knew we were moving forward. We were being recognized as equal human beings across all 50 states. My face hurt from smiling the whole day through.
I remember where I’ve been. I remember who I’ve been, and how it’s shaped who I am today, and who I’m going to become. I remember the good, I remember the bad—and in the end, it’s all made me a better person, in its own way. I wouldn’t take any of it back, not for the world.
A lot of people refer to the next four years as “Trump’s America,” but I don’t think of it that way. As long as I am still here, and as long as I am still fighting for what I know is right, this is My America. This is our America. No matter what happens, we cannot forget that.